Change is Constant

As the moments become days and pass into memory, I feel we continually add invisible pieces to our selves. It has been so with me. And yet sometimes we also have very visible proof of our progress through time. This is one of the reasons I love blacksmithing – at the end of the day, you have a tactile, solid measure of your work. And maybe, just maybe, you can say that there is a little more beauty in the world because of it.

I am about to leave Sweden, and step out on the next path. My destination is the UK, encouraged by my expired visa to head to a new country. Although I have spent a good deal of effort preparing, the here and now has been pulling me strongly. Fredrik and I have been in production mode, working on a duo of chandeliers (ljuskronor), among some other smaller projects.

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The candleholders, and the ring, are all held together with rivets.

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Our signatures in the iron.

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A similar design, but with notable differences from the other ljuskrona.

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The Master at work – it was photography time.

Working under the guidance of a professional smith is an incredible experience, and the collaboration tests my ability to match and uphold Fredrik’s style and standards. Yet he has also encouraged me to find my own design, to explore what makes my ironwork unique. Using this as a starting point, I forged a couple of candleholders from start to finish, creating a design and then fulfilling it, and facing the challenges along the way.

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A tabletop ljusstake for two candles. Maybe not the best example of designing and planning – for this one I used the “winging it” method.

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This ljusstake is in the sauna. Because of the heat, it is best to use tea lights. Besides the four visible, there is also a candle behind the “moon.”

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The sauna is just over a year old, and there is a considerable amount of sap from the wood. A nice backdrop, don’t you think?

The sauna is a frequent presence in our lives, sometimes more, sometimes less. But an important part of the experience is jumping in the water. Sometimes it takes a little work to get there though…

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…in places the ice was thicker than the 40cm blade of the chainsaw. But we prevailed!

The family has been doing lots of colouring lately, from colouring books to “freestyle” (without colouring books). It is a great creative compliment to working in the forge, as well as a calming evening activity together.

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The colour pencils arrived!

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A graphite doodle I thought I’d call “Learning Lines.”

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Thanks to the colouring book and my Waldorf education for this one.

This brings one chapter of my adventure to a close. As I leave for Britain, and the unknown beyond that, I know that this has been a powerful time in my life. I hope to keep my updates alive as I journey, to share a glimpse into my travels and encounters with British blacksmiths.

Greet each day with passion, surrounded by health, and with a good portion of laughter to feed you.

 

 

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Det finns snö!

The snow has arrived! Mocking my high expectations of brutal Swedish winters, it has been a record-setting mild season. But with the coming of January we got some snow, and, as I write, temperatures of -15ºC (+5ºF). I couldn’t help but take some photos, and could be spending all my time marvelling at the transformation of the world.

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Work still goes on, however, albeit at a relaxed pace. At the encouragement of my brother Neal (he’s a constant source of ideas) I tried forging a tjäckelyxa, or gutter adze. This tool is used to carve out bowls, canoes, and I imagine, as the name implies, making gutters. It was certainly a learning experience, with more gained for next time than in a finished product. It was a great exercise in moving material, and loads of fun.

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A straight edged adze (skarvyxa) is also a useful tool. Since I first forged this one straight, then curved it, the process included both versions.

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There are as many shapes and sizes as fit the job to be done. This is a small version, yet with a fairly wide radius curve.

I couldn’t have wished for a better start to a year, and I trust that everyone reading this has stepped into a new chapter with excitement and inspiration.

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A New Year

Each year I look back 12 months and marvel at the changes that happen from season to season. This year has been no different, and I can’t help but be grateful for the passing of time.

Here in Högen, Sweden, my small village in Hälsingland, I experienced what seemed to me a typical rural New Year’s celebration. In this case, typical was not boring, but brought a perfect sense of contentment with the end of my year. It was complete with gathering around a fire and cooking sausages for lunch, skating on the lake, enjoying a sauna, and playing folk fiddle music from the surrounding villages.

On the blacksmithing front, it has been Christmas present time. In my family it has become a tradition to make all of our gifts, and this year was no different. (My chosen trade isn’t very well suited to international shipping, however…maybe next year it will be gift cards.) Below are some samples of work I have done for my immediate family. They are patient guinea pigs as I experiment with new techniques and designs for their gifts. They are the best research and development team I could think of.

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Two views of a candleholder for my parents

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A puzzle for my nephew. More of a puzzle for me to create, I think, but a fun exercise in design and welding.

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Damascus knives of different designs, with hickory handles.

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My main goal was to experiment with different patterns, and do my best to use the pattern welding to create a functional advantage. I brought each knife to 1000+ layers.

As we begin this new year, I feel that we move together towards an ever more promising future. Health and happiness to all.